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After moving our daughter into her dorm at College of Charleston last weekend, my wife and I decided to take a couple of days of R&R at Folly Beach, just outside of Charleston. It was a great decision!

Our first day at the beach, my wife mentioned that she forgot to bring sunglasses. That’s when I pulled out my trusty SHSMD shades that I keep stashed for just such an occasion. So, for the last couple of days, Scotti has been sporting fashionable SHSMD branded sunglasses – a constant reminder of my affiliation with the organization. (Coincidentally, I had just written a blog post about SHSMD’s new Viewpoint online forum – an online community for healthcare marketers, communicators and strategists. It went live on my blog earlier this week.) Don’t forget, the SHSMD conference is coming up in just a few weeks. I hope to see you there. I’ll be Tweeting from the event, sharing my observations.

That’s my blog post from Folly Beach. I’m enjoying the sea air and beautiful sunsets. Ever the healthcare marketer.

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Viewpoint: Strategies For Success is a new online forum where SHSMD showcases articles addressing all aspects of healthcare strategy and market development, including strategic planning, marketing, public relations, communications, business development, physician relations, digital engagement, media relations, and community relations. It is part of SHSMD’s online member community. This is an exciting new tool for healthcare marketers, communicators and strategic planners.

I invite you to check out the new Viewpoint forum and let me know what you think.

I was in a meeting last week with a guy who kept talking about flushing out his ideas and flushing out his marketing plan. Granted, some ideas should be flushed; however, I don’t think that’s what he meant.

This particular misuse of language happens all the time and drives me crazy. I think I’m a fairly reasonable person, but my patience has limits.

Here’s what Merriam-Webster says about whether or not you should flush out or flesh out your plans:

Think of fleshing out a skeleton. To flesh out something is to give it substance, or to make it fuller or more nearly complete.

To flush out something is to cause it to leave a hiding place, e.g., “The birds were flushed out of the tree.”

When you’re fleshing out a plan, you’re putting meat on the bone! End of story.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 9.33.07 AMFor me, being active and engaged in the world of healthcare marketing has taken many forms: speaking at conferences, blogging, contributing articles to industry publications, participating in the #HCLDR Twitter chat and serving on the judging panels of several healthcare marketing award competitions. This is top-of-mind right now because this week I am judging the 29th Annual Maggie Awards of the Mississippi Hospital Association’s Society for Health Care Marketing and Public Relations.

Why take the time away from my already hectic schedule to judge various award competitions?

  • First, this is one form of giving back to the industry. It just fits with my business philosophy.
  • Judging award competitions makes me a better marketer and communicator. As a judge, you see the good, the bad and the ugly – and the spectacular. It is exciting to see the great work that is being done by hospitals and health systems across the country – often with limited resources.
  • Reviewing all of these award submissions has helped me have perspective when my firm enters our clients’ work in award competitions. Reading dozens of award entries can be mind numbing – particularly when no one speaks to the specific goals of the campaign and they fail to give true measurable results. I believe I am much better at crafting award submissions thanks to this experience.
  • Judging awards gives me the opportunity to put myself in the shoes of the organizations being judged, and apply my marketing sense to each new situation or challenge. How would I have approached this? Would I have done this differently? Would I have thought to do what they did?
  • Finally, early in my career, serving on judging panels was a great resume building activity. It is easy to find opportunities to serve on judging panels and it is a prestigious activity, yet very few professionals actually partake. It seems like a missed opportunity.

In the past I’ve judged the Digital Health Awards, National Health Information Awards, Pelican Awards (Louisiana), Target Awards (Georgia), Pinnacle Awards (Illinois), Beacon Awards (Minnesota), WHPRMS Communications Review (Wisconsin) and more. I am grateful for the education that these experiences have provided me. If you’re looking for a way to step up your involvement in the industry, consider volunteering to serve on a judging panel. Another option would be getting involved with your local SHSMD chapter – perhaps serving on the board. But that’s another blog post.

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Early this week, my colleague, Kate Gillmer, and I were invited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to sit in on a webinar where they formally launched their new initiative – Health Impact in 5 Years (HI-5). The HI-5 or “High-Five” initiative highlights a list of non-clinical, community-wide approaches with a proven track record. Each intervention listed is associated with improved health within five years and is reported to be cost-effective or cost-saving over the lifetime of the population or even earlier. Public and private organizations can use this list to quickly assess the scientific evidence for short-term health outcomes and overall cost impacts of community-wide approaches.

With its emphasis on community-wide approaches, HI-5 complements CDC’s 6|18 Initiative, which focuses on 18 traditional and innovative clinical interventions for six high-burden conditions. Together, HI-5 and 6|18 provide public health, health care, and a diverse array of other sectors with evidence across the continuum of prevention and care.

As you can see in the graphic below, HI-5 is focused on non-clinical, community-wide public health interventions for population health improvement – those interventions that have the greatest potential for impact on health because they reach entire populations of people at once and require less individual effort than clinical interventions.

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HI-5 highlights two types of public health interventions: 1) Those that help to change the context by making the healthy choice easier, and 2) interventions addressing the social determinants of health.

Interventions Changing the Context:

School-Based Programs to Increase Physical Activity
School-Based Violence Prevention
Safe Routes to School
Motorcycle Injury Prevention
Tobacco Control Interventions
Access to Clean Syringes
Pricing Strategies for Alcohol Products
Multi-Component Worksite Obesity Prevention

Interventions Addressing the Social Determinants of Health:

Early Childhood Education
Clean Diesel Bus Fleets
Public Transportation: System Introduction or Expansion
Home Improvement Loans and Grants
Earned Income Tax Credits
Water Fluoridation

For more information on the HI-5 initiative, go to http://www.cdc.gov/HI5.

For some time now the U.S. healthcare industry has been feeling the staffing pinch with a growing and aging population that requires more care and has greater access to it than ever before. Despite the creation of 475,000 new healthcare jobs in 2015 to handle this challenge (according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data), there’s still a shortage of key positions, making it a job-seeker’s market.

Today, Health eCareers released its annual Healthcare Salary Guide, based on a survey involving nearly 20,000 healthcare professionals. The results show that 87% are making more or the same as a year ago, yet nearly half are actively looking for better opportunities and their confidence is high.

The Retention Dilemma
Anticipate-Changing-Employers-Within-the-YearOf those studied, 29% said they anticipate changing employers in the next year (yikes), 30% have no plans to change and 41% are unsure (even more unsettling). What’s more, 86% are confident they could find a new position. The top reasons given for seeking new employment were higher pay, more rewarding and challenging work, better working hours and wanting to work for a different organization.

Despite the intensely competitive hiring market, employers are falling short in motivating employees to stay. We are failing in the retention arena. While 61% offer some type of incentive to retain employees, this represents just a 1% increase from last year, and 39% offer no motivator at all.

How Average Salaries Have Shifted
Ten out of the 14 studied positions saw salary increases over the past year, but some were more sizeable than others, and key positions such as nursing actually saw a drop.

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Average annual salaries by position compared to 2015 data:
Physicians and surgeons – $255,648, a 2.5% increase
Healthcare executives – $134,632, a 12.9% decrease
Physician assistants – $105,856, a 4.3% increase
Nurse practitioners – $100,549, a 5.3% increase
Healthcare IT – $91,251, a 2.2% increase
Nurses – $61,875, a 3.1% decrease

(Note: I didn’t see any data for healthcare marketers!)

Compensation-ChangeThe positions that reported the largest year-over-year salary increases were academics/research, administrative/operations and allied health. Healthcare executives and pharmacy saw the biggest decrease this year. Those in academia and research saw the greatest gain (27%). PAs received a higher salary increase than physicians, perhaps because providers have to pay them more to be competitive amidst the physician shortage.

“It struck us that NPs and PAs received a higher pay bump than physicians,” said Bassett, Health eCareer’s Managing Director. “This could, at least in part, be attributed to the physician shortage, which is causing healthcare providers to hire NPs and PAs in larger numbers, and having to pay them more to be competitive.”

Salary and Job Satisfaction Is Luke Warm
Health eCareers found healthcare professionals have varying levels of satisfaction with their current pay and jobs. Forty-five percent are satisfied with their salaries, 14% are neutral and 41% are dissatisfied. When it comes to their jobs and employers, 57% report being happy, but 43% are actively looking for better opportunities.

Occupations-Most-Satisfied-with-CompensationAmong nurses, only 44% are satisfied with their salaries. The main drivers of dissatisfaction are that salaries don’t reflect experience or are lower than similar jobs in the region. Seventeen percent are happy and plan to stay in their current jobs, but 13% are actively looking elsewhere.

Physician assistants are the most satisfied with their salary and current position – 60% are happy about their pay and 27% said they are “very happy” in their current jobs.

Physicians and surgeons are happier than nurses, but less so than PAs. More than half (52%) are content with their salaries, and 20% plan to stay with their current employer. Those who are dissatisfied pointed to pay that is below similar positions and being required to work uncompensated hours.

Download Health eCareers’ 2016 Healthcare Salary Guide at salary.healthecareers.com

About the Survey
The Health eCareers 2016 Salary Guide is a comprehensive resource on compensation and employment trends in the healthcare industry. Responses were collected via a survey of 19,754 healthcare job seekers from the Health eCareers database in January and February 2016. Survey participants were comprised of nurses (20%), administrative/operations (19%), physicians and surgeons (10%), nurse practitioners (7%), physician assistants (5%), allied health professionals (5%), radiologic technologists/medical imaging professionals (5%), counselors/social services (4%), pharmacy professionals (3%), healthcare IT professionals (3%) and other healthcare professionals. Eighty-five percent of respondents currently work full time, 8% work part time, 6% are per diem or contract, 4% have irregular hours or on call, and 3% are unemployed.

Compensation findings are based off of base salary and hourly wage, and compensation information is only provided where a sample size of at least 100 exists.

As with any fad, particularly fitness fads, lots of people buy equipment that soon ends up in a drawer or on a shelf. It really sounded like a good idea when you purchased that Fitbit, but it didn’t provide the inspiration you expected or you stepped up and purchased a more advanced edition. Either way, the old model is gathering dust somewhere.

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 2.22.32 PMThat’s where RecycleHealth comes in. RecycleHealth gathers wearables from people who upgrade to newer models or just stop using them, and donates them to fitness studies involving underserved populations.

“It started with two simple questions: (1) What if those least likely to buy wearable activity trackers benefited most from their use to improve health and fitness, and (2) Would people who owned wearables that they don’t use donate them to help others? From there, RecycleHealth was born.” (RecycleHealth.com)

My friend, Lisa Gualtieri, is the organization’s founder and program director. Lisa and her team are providing a “second life for wearables” while making them available to underserved populations who would not typically be able to afford them. Access to wearables is a very real challenge for many.

Research into the benefits of wearables is a primary objective of the organization:

“RecycleHealth works with organizations that serve minorities, low-income households, and seniors to increase fitness and health. Participants in our studies receive wearables to keep, and we ask them to complete surveys so we can learn more about acceptability and use of wearables and their impact on physical activity and behavior change in different populations!” (www.recyclehealth.com)

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 2.46.03 PMIf you have a community that could benefit from wearables (RecycleHealth focuses on seniors, minorities and low-income groups), you can contact them through the website (http://www.recyclehealth.com) for more information. They may well have recycled wearables that you can use for research in your own community. Evidently, there are plenty of fitness trackers out there that are going unused. According to a 2014 report from TechRepublic, 50% of users lose interest. That report cited a study by Endeavor Partners which found that half of the survey’s 6,223 respondents “said that they no longer use their activity tracker, and a third of those stopped using the device within six months of receiving it.” To access Endeavor Partners’ white paper on the subject, use this link.

Here’s a link to an article from the Boston Globe that features RecycleHealth.

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